Last Day!

Congratulations! You have made it to the final day of the Lifestyle Challenge. While this is the end of the challenge our hope is that you will continue on with the healthy living lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to over the past few weeks. Maybe you’ve developed some good sleeping habits that you’ll keep up with, maybe making sure you get in a minimum 2L of water is second nature now or maybe you don’t miss bread at ALL and Paleo from now on will be a breeze. Whatever your reason for taking part in the Challenge in the first place we hope that you’ve all come away from it with something. Wether it’s a smaller waist line, bigger numbers on your lifts, overall feeling good or just a couple yummy recipes. We changed the name to the Lifestyle Challenge this time around rather than just a Paleo challenge because it really is about changing your whole lifestyle, not just what you eat. It’s not just about what’s on your plate but how you live your life as a whole that will make (and keep) you well.

Thanks for letting us bring a little more good living into your lives, see you at the gym!



7 Shades of Paleo

There’s an episode of The Simpsons that Paul McCartney guest stars on and there’s a scene that goes something like this – Paul McCartney and Lisa are talking and Lisa tells Paul that she’s a vegetarian and she’s thinking about becoming a vegan; to which Paul replies, “I’m a level seven vegan.  I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow.”  Yeah.  Pretty deep, I know.  This little intro is going to serve two purposes today.  The first is to show that everything can be taken too far.  Sorry Paul, but you fit the description of “That Guy”.  The other purpose is to point out that in the land of the non-meat eating there are ‘shades’ or classes of vegetarian/veganism – you’ve got your standard vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, macrobiotic, pesco-vegetarian, flexitarian, etc.  Unfortunately with Paleo we don’t really have that kind of flexibility – either you are, or you aren’t.  I mean sure, you’ve got the Primal crowd that does dairy and the autoimmune folks but those are pretty much the only recognized options.  This makes for a lot of confusion and results in some pretty harsh criticism sometimes.  Let me explain…

You honestly have NO IDEA how many questions and emails I get asking if ‘x’ food is paleo or from people that are confused because they read something about  _________ (insert random nonsense here) on one of the forums.  The worst is when someone tells me that they’ve been accused of not being paleo because they use/eat/drink – wait for it…  (these are good) – vinegar, salt, sweet potatoes, coffee and the list goes on.  Now, some of you are probably out there saying, those things aren’t paleo – cavemen didn’t have them and/or so and so book says they aren’t…  Well, this is where that classification system would be damn useful…

Seeing as there isn’t one yet, I took it upon myself (well, actually I was struggling with a blog topic for this week) to come up with a wicked useful ‘Seven Shades of Paleo’ classification system (Sorry to disappoint, this post is rated PG-13).  Since I created this – I make the rules and I say that you can fall anywhere on this scale and moving by half shades is totally allowable.   Go ahead, argue with me – remember, I invented this – I will always win…  So here it goes:

The Official 7 Shades of Paleo Classification System

First Shade of Paleo –The Militant Paleo (Also known as “That Guy”)

We all know at least one of these dudes or dudettes – these are the people on the forums that can find fault in every paleo diet – except their own.  They hunt their own meat, gather berries, climb trees to harvest nuts, and make dinner outside over the fire pit (or at least that’s what they tell you).  This is all well and good, but for most of us – their reality is not one that we can live in.  I liken this to the raw vegans or better yet, the fruititarians – a little over the top, and slightly insane.  **Disclaimer** If this you I apologize – please refer to the “That Guy” post linked above and know that we love you, but we just can’t live like you.  Have mercy on us.  And PS – the internet is SO NOT PALEO!!

Second Shade of Paleo – The Autoimmune Paleo

For some people just being paleo, although great, is not enough to optimize health and really start feeling good.  Individuals with autoimmune conditions or advanced health issues often need to take things a step further and this is where the paleo autoimmune protocol comes in.  For those in this shade eggs, nuts, and nightshade vegetables are added to the list of foods to avoid.  It is more difficult for some to follow – but trust me it works!

Third Shade of Paleo – The Low-Carb Paleo

The low-carb paleo approach is also fairly popular and is a great shade for improving many health issues and for getting lean.  This approach consists of eating primarily meat, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables.  You won’t find ‘safe starches’ (sweet potatoes, yams, roots and tubers, etc.), fruit or high amounts of nuts and avocado.  This is a protocol that is often cycled in and out of based on goals and individual response.

Fourth Shade of Paleo – The Lacto-Paleo (Also known as Primal)

This one is exactly what the name implies.  The lacto-paleo follows a traditional paleo style of eating but includes dairy products.  Now, we’re not talking just any dairy products (READ: Cheez-whiz, Coffeemate, Kraft Singles, and Ben & Jerry’s, do not fall under this umbrella).  The optimal choices here are organic, grassfed, whole (full-fat) dairy products.  Skim milk and Yoplait light need not apply.

Fifth Shade of Paleo – The 80/20 Paleo (Also known as the Weekday Paleo)

This is my personal favorite shade and I would guess it’s where the bulk of us probably fall.  Basically stated, we eat clean paleo about 80-90 percent of the time and the other 10-20 percent we eat what would be considered non-paleo foods.  This could mean some cheese, wine, ice cream, etc.  This is a SANE and healthy approach as long as the 20 percent is kept under control (this does not mean a 4 hour food fest that starts with Dunkin Donuts, moves on to Dominos and ends with Dairy Queen).

Sixth Shade of Paleo – The Vegetarian Paleo (Also known as ‘Difficult’)

As paleo becomes more highly publicized for its health benefits we’re starting to see greater interest from vegetarians and even vegans that want to go paleo.  This is a tough bunch for the obvious reason – NO MEAT!  Yeah, the protein options just got up and left.  In some cases eggs are a go – but in others – no animal products at all.  I know you’re all thinking – “Well there’s no way this is even possible.”  And from an evolutionary standpoint you’re likely correct.  However, there are still some individuals that want to ‘be paleo’ without meat.  To make this work; properly prepared beans and legumes, fermented soy, nuts and seeds make up a bulk of the protein.  On a ‘textbook’ paleo diet this wouldn’t fly.  Is it possible to be vegetarian or vegan and be ‘paleo’?   Well, not really – in fact, I would say not.  What is possible is to eat whole, clean foods, (this means no Tofurky, Boca Burgers, or hybrid vegetarian/vegan processed foods).  This is going to look similar to a raw vegan approach.  Is it ideal? No, but it’s a start.

Seventh Shade of Paleo – The “I Decide” Paleo (Also known as the WTF Paleo)

Yeah, we all know this guy (gal), or maybe it’s even you sometimes…  It goes something like this – the WTF paleo says, “Yeah, I’ve been strict paleo for like a year now but I’m just not seeing or feeling the results.”  Okay, maybe…  But let’s consider an ‘average day’ of ‘strict paleo’ for this person – Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon.  Mid-morning – Starbucks latte with 3 sugar packets and a Kind Bar.  Lunch – Burger (no bun) with mayo, ketchup and mustard and a side of sweet potato fries.  Mid-afternoon – Gluten free cupcake and a handful of trail mix.  Dinner – Order of wings, steak, mashed potatoes, 2 Bud Lights and coconut ice cream for dessert…  So, I think you get my point on this one.  It’s sort of like saying you’re a vegan but eating steak every other week and wearing alligator skin boots – questionable at best.

There you have it – now paleo has a handy classification system to help clear up some of the confusion.  Seriously though, remember that paleo is not a religion – there is no paleo heaven or paleo hell.  If your ‘shade’ of paleo isn’t on this chart, but works for you, your health and your goals then it doesn’t matter what the Militant Paleo says.  Find the hue that’s right for you – there is no ‘one perfect formula’ for everyone – start with the basics and experiment until you find your perfect shade.  Your body and your sanity will thank you.

What shade are you?

Original article HERE

Tech Talk

Some weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the power of food marketing. I claimed its messages and images are so carefully crafted to pique our interests and to influence our associations with certain foods that none of us (who are exposed) are entirely immune. I’ve been thinking lately about the larger applicability of this media principle and how it fits the realm of technology. The fact is, we live in an interesting age held in novel tension between in-person reality and technological representation. We see and experience “regular,” real-time living, and then we also regularly intake a selected, stylized version of just about everything associated with life – personal leisure, family doings, food selections, home appearances, relationship depictions, global events, etc. through our technological devices. The whole experiment is unprecedented in human psychology, yet it’s clear we’re drawn in – often further than we’d ever anticipate. Media forms and the status-bearing tools we use to access them claim an increasing and at times problematic place in our lives.

We cutting-edge moderns live with the same 24-hour day confines and same human physiology that requires genetically expected “nuisances” like sleepsunsolitude, and face-to-face socialization as our Paleolithic ancestors did. Yet, at any given moment today’s generations have “the world” at their fingertips – an infinity of digital information and entertainment we’re told we must know or “must see” or must update. How – I venture many of us ask at some point – do people maintain these multiple “exo-worlds” (e.g. having seen every episode of the latest popular show, being constantly active on Facebook and other social media, mastering online games) in addition to living their own physical lives? The truth is, we all live on a moving continuum of choices. Likewise, we all live with technology. How much we live in (or even for) it, however, varies. Do we make it work for us as tool, or do we become its unwitting subject? At what point does technology (particularly media) use morph into overuse or abuse? Can it move from misuse to addiction? What does all this mean for a thoughtful Primal life?

While experts agree that technology addiction is clearly a growing problem, hard statistics are sketchy. Dr. Kimberly Young, author of Caught in the Net, proposes that approximately 12% of Americans show signs of “problematic” Internet use, for example, while the numbers can climb to 30% in parts of Asia, where Internet addiction is considered a greater problem. Part of the difficulty in pinning down the prevalence is the breadth of issues under the tech umbrella and the relatively recent development/general accessibility of many of these technologies. Internet addiction, for example, wasn’t included in the DSM-V (the 5th and recently updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), although online gaming addiction (generally considered a subset of Internet addiction, which itself is part of the larger label of technology addiction) was listed as a condition warranting further study and consideration.

In the absence of agreement on a clear-cut “addiction” definition, many experts prefer to talk in terms of compulsive or pathological use. Mental health professionals note that those with serious pathological use show signs of addiction, including withdrawal. The compulsion can be so strong that it significantly interferences with or takes over subject’s lives as they give up food, sleep and socialization to continue their time with their technology – whether it’s to play online games, view pornography, compulsively browse the Internet or specific social media. Researchers have noted abnormalities in the gray matter of those who use the Internet compulsively.

Some argue it’s a question of focus. We can’t be addicted to the Internet itself but perhaps can be to a kind of content/engagement found on it (e.g. gaming, pornography, gambling, shopping, social media). It’s a reasonable perspective. That said, there’s something compelling beyond a category of content that seems to have a hold on us. A University of Maryland studyfound that 80% of young adults, for example, experienced physical withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drug addicts (e.g. cravings, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks) when asked to go without their phones for a day. Another Time Magazine international survey showed that nearly 85% of adults couldn’t go for a day without access to our phones.

Yet, it’s not simply the presence of our devices but our perhaps collectively compulsive use of them that surprises. According to a Mobile Mindset Study done by the security app company Lookout, nearly 60% of us look at our phones at least once an hour. For those of us in the youngest group (18-34), that number jumps to almost 70%. Nearly three-quarters of us would be panicked if we lost our phones. More than half of us look at our phones in bed. Almost 40% of us check it while we’re on the toilet, more than a third of us use it while eating a meal with other people, and a quarter of us look at it while driving. While Lookout’s survey can’t claim the scientific gold standard, I have a hunch these ring pretty true. (What do you think?) If this picture doesn’t reflect a collective obsession, I’m not sure what would.

While I clearly conceptualize the difference between the use of technology and addiction to it, I’d also argue that there’s reason to question just how hazy the line has become between what we’re willing to constitute as “normal” versus abnormal use. We see the words technology addiction or Internet addiction and want to discount the whole premise or simply pin it on “those” people who must have other problems. (Indeed, research does suggest that those who qualify as Internet addicts, for example, do tend to have co-occurring conditions.)

Still, I’m going to rock the boat and question whether we can all fall prey to or require active vigilance against the addictive pull of technologyJust as food packaging and store design is set up to hook us, the lure of websites, games and social media show much more sophisticated strategy. Are we perhaps – with our relatively simple and predictable reward centers – playing with fire when we push the envelope online? We might convince ourselves we’re in control, but how many conversations with our kids got derailed or distracted because of something on our phones? How many nights did have we stayed up later than we wanted because we got sucked into online this or that?

Even if we’re not giving up sleep and sustenance, the fact is we may be compromising other elements of daily life. As many experts have noted in the last decade, technology is transforming even our intimate communication – and not necessarily for the better. In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle critiques the dampening of personal connection and intimacy with the reliance on technological means of communication and entertainment. When our devices become our sources for leisure and contact, we inevitably deprive ourselves of deeper – more Primal – layers of rapport and attachment. Likewise, we may compromise other elements of health and self-care because of our technological time-sucks. What would our schedules and daily rhythms look like if we did without non-work-essential tech use (during our set work hours)? How much does it take before an indulgence turns into a pattern or at least something that takes too much time and energy to get over to be worth it?

The truth is, we inevitably give up a portion of “real-time” life when we venture to the technological plane of existence however many dozen times per day. Add to that the cognitive “transition” time when we bring ourselves back into the physical present after getting absorbed in our tech tools. No wonder so many of us get that fried, jangly feeling by the end of each day. It’s one wide expanse maybe worth leaving most days between the peace of the simple present and the overstimulation of a virtual world at our fingertips.
Read more:

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Get Off The Scale

Someone asked me about weight loss recently and, is it normal to lose more weight in the first week of eating Paleo and then stop losing in subsequent weeks. Here’s part of my answer: Please throw out your scale!

Now, here’s why. The number on the scale is not a good indicator of how healthy you actually are. Ultimately that should be our goal, to be healthy, not necessarily a certain weight. For example, if you look at a BMI (Body Mass Index: a ratio of your height to weight) score I am on the high end of ‘normal weight’ I better not gain another 8 pounds of muscle or I’d be in the overweight category. BMI and your bathroom scale do not take into consideration how much muscle mass you have, water weight or hydration levels, lean mass and body fat independently. It just lumps everything into one big pile and spits out a number. That’s not very helpful in telling us how healthy we are.

Take a look at the graph below. All of the items in the middle are measurable. There are guidelines that tell us what a healthy range is for blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat etc. On the sickness side this would be where you’d have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and so on, toward wellness would be in the normal range and toward fitness above normal. The more items on the list that you have moving toward the right side of the curve, the ‘healthier’ you are. You’re moving in the right direction. This is a far better indicator of your progress than a scale.

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 9.18.02 PM

Another great measurement is your body composition. We had Rebecca Bilodeau at the gym when the challenge started to do body compositions which measure your body fat percentage, lean mass/muscle mass, hydration/water weight etc. She will be coming back to repeat those tests at the end of the challenge as well. If you did the test at the start and you do it again at the end you will know you are moving in the right direction if your body fat percentage has gone down and or your lean/muscle mass has gone up. No, it’s not immediate feedback like stepping on a scale every morning but it is certainly more accurate.

Keep in mind that as you may be losing weight you are also gaining muscle, which weighs more and may not give you an accurate number on the scale causing you to think you’re not moving in the right direction when in fact you are. Another way to notice progress might be how your clothes fit. Clothes getting bigger but number on the scale not budging? You’re still doing alright.


Today’s recipe courtesy of Against All Grain (check out the site for lots more great recipes)

Baked Garlic Mushroom Chicken


No Regrets

If we could make our lives just 1% better every day or even every week, imagine how much better off we would be. Happier, healthier, less stressed. Here are 27 Things You Won’t Regret When You’re Older, which is also a great list of things we can do to make our lives a little better.